To produce movement your muscles must work together. Even though there is often a particular muscle of focus, it takes multiple muscles firing at the same time for movement to be produced. The three core exercises below combine two demands (core strength and scapular stability) and are sneaky ways to add in more corrective stability work to your core-based training.
DISCLAIMER: Before combining the exercises below, make sure that you (or the person you are training) has mastered each movement independently. At BIM, we will often revert back to the isolated variation because most will have to decrease their resistance or number of reps completed when they do a paired variation.
Side Plank Powell Raise
This is one of my personal faves because it gives you all the benefits of a Side Plank (by activating your deep core muscles including transversus abdominis and internal obliques as well as your lateral hip stabilizers) plus the added bonus of strengthening you scapular stabilizers. In general Side Planks are great for your core and posture. More so when you add in the Powell Raise.
A Powell Raise is an arm raise or—more specifically—a horizontal shoulder abduction that targets the mid trapezius muscles, the posterior deltoid and the rhomboids. When you pair the Side Plank with a Powell Raise it also serves as a nice anti-rotational exercise.
- Make sure your elbow is directly under your shoulder, ribs are pull down and set and fully extend through your bottom hip to set the position. Also make sure to keep your neck neutral (read THIS post to learn the benefits of that)
- When performing the arm movement utilize a full range of motion and make sure your hand stays slightly below your shoulder height. This will prevent you from over activating your upper traps.
- Aim to complete 3 sets of 5-12 reps per side.
Hollow with Band Pull Apart
Hollows are an advanced core exercise that help target all of the core muscles. This exercise trains neck stability via the deep neck flexors, rib positioning via the internal obliques and diaphragm, and pelvic stability via the lower abdominals and hip flexors. Once someone has mastered the basic technique we like to throw in a band pull apart to add a little scapular love in to the mix.
- To initiate your head movement nod your chin down towards your chest to properly engage your deep neck flexors (read THIS post for more info on that) then maintain that chin nod as you lift your head.
- Your feet should be crossed and you want to squeeze your ankles together the entire time. This will help to further engage your core.
- If you feel pulling in your lower back or spasming in your hip flexors, you need to regress as this is a sign that you are compensating. Read THIS post for exercises that are a better option for you.
- Aim to complete 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
Hand Switches with Band
This is a plank variation, but not an easy one. The goal here is to brace against the lateral pull you get from the band resistance. You will not only work on your anterior core strength and core timing here, but you will also effectively train your serratus anterior muscles. This may not sound exciting, but believe me it is. If you didn’t already know the serratus anterior muscle is commonly weak in most individuals and plays a vital role in keeping your shoulder functioning well.
- To maximally recruit your serratus anterior muscle make sure your arms are fully extended and push your chest as far away from the floor as you can without rounding your back (this motion is known as protraction).
- The more narrow your foot stance the harder it is so modify accordingly to maintain solid form. This means you should not be shifting your hips as you move your hands.
- Aim to complete 3 sets of 6-20 reps, alternating.
If you have any questions about any of the exercises featured in this post, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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